Trying to decide if a particular CMS is right for you can be a daunting task – and Sitefinity is no different. It can be your strongest ally when it’s a good fit for the project and you’re able to work together harmoniously (as Primacy found out when we built the new Columbus Regional Hospital site with Sitefinity). On the other hand, the platform could turn into your most bitter enemy if forced to work against the way it’s designed (as with any technology). There are many factors to consider while making this decision, but ultimately the biggest consideration comes down to the people that will be using it day to day for website maintenance and what the site that they will be maintaining looks and acts like.
When Should I Use Sitefinity?
Your content authors are front-end code ninjas (or you do the ninja-ing for them) Sitefinity is very flexible and allows a lot of control over layout, design, and content. This is one of its strengths, but can also make things frustrating for your content authors if they’re not code-savvy. If your content authors are comfortable with a little HTML/CSS in order to make sure things look exactly as they’re designed, Sitefinity could be a great option for them right out of the box. If, however, your content authors are not quite code ninjas, you can do the acrobatics for them by creating easy to use and flexible templates with an extensible, responsive, and rock-solid design, and a menagerie of custom widgets. Custom widgets in Sitefinity can allow content authors to create very impressive pages with no knowledge of HTML or CSS. Utilize this to your advantage by creating custom widgets that allow the content author to configure all of the parts of the widget that will be changing, while making sure that you as the developer have total control over the way that the item is rendered. Or create widgets that use Sitefinity’s extensive API to determine how to function based on how the content authors use Sitefinity’s backend to configure and organize content. Your content authors need or want a high level of control Sitefinity provides your content authors with a high level of control over the pages, content, and assets of a site. Content authors have total control over how pages are organized within the sitemap, content items and custom content types and their organization within the CMS, asset libraries (like image libraries), and more. If your content authors expect that their site needs to be light on its feet and is more susceptible to change, placing such a high level of control in their hands might help them to be more independent and require less developer intervention during upkeep and maintenance of the site. You need to show different people different versions of certain pages One of the most innovative features of Sitefinity is the comprehensive personalization function. Sitefinity allows you or your content authors to first define what makes a user distinctive, and then create personalized versions of any page. This can be an extremely useful tool if, for example, you only offer products to a certain geographical area, as it allows you to create a different view of each pertinent page for that geographical area. It can also be useful if you’d like to show different information on the same page to users of different roles, i.e. a customer service agent versus an item repair agent. These are just a couple of very simplistic ideas to demonstrate potential usages for this feature, but I’m sure you get the picture. You need comprehensive control over who can edit what Sitefinity offers access control and approval workflows that allow you to determine who can edit what, who can publish what, who can approve newly published items, and so on. If you need this comprehensive level of control over what your content authors can and cannot do and which content authors have publishing approval rights, Sitefinity could be a good option for you. You need to be able to revert mistakes or rescue deleted content items and pages Sitefinity keeps a revision history of each item and will allow you to roll back to the last published revision, which can be handy if you or your content authors make a catastrophic mistake or publish something accidentally. Furthermore, Sitefinity has a handy recycle bin that will allow you to rescue accidentally deleted content items or pages.
When should I not use Sitefinity?
You don’t want your content authors to have control over the design (or maybe they are hesitant to wield such power) If you’d rather that your content authors were only able to change the actual content on the pages but could not change the design of the page, Sitefinity may not be a good choice. The platform is designed to allow content authors to control the layout and design of each page, the order of widgets on the page, and so on. If you’d rather not give your content authors such large amounts of control over the design of the site (or they don’t want such power), then Sitefinity may not be for you. You don’t have any experience with C#.NET and either WebForms or MVC This one may be obvious, but if you’ve got no experience with C#.NET and either WebForms or MVC, Sitefinity may not be for you. The custom widgets that allow you to define custom functionality are either WebForms widgets or MVC widgets. It’s not an insurmountable obstacle, obviously, but if you’re looking for a quick startup, Sitefinity may not be for you if you don’t have any of this experience. You need a site done very quickly (and you have a complicated site design) For all of its strengths, Sitefinity can make quick implementation of a complicated site design extremely difficult. If your site has a ton of highly customized moving parts, Sitefinity may not be the easiest CMS to use in your site implementation. If you’ve got a lot of complicated MVC routing or a lot of very hefty functionality, you may want to have an honest discussion with your team (or make an extensive pro-con list).
Sitefinity is a great choice for a mid-tier CMS that provides hefty functionality and customization capabilities. It is highly customizable, flexible, and affords content authors a high level of control over pages, design, layout, content types, content items, and the organization of all of the above. If you’re considering it as an option for a CMS for your site, ensure that you’ll be working with the CMS instead of trying to make it work with you... you’ll have a much happier relationship if you do. For more information and information on features not covered in this post, please visit http://www.sitefinity.com/features.